My list of things that libertarians need to improve on went over better than I expected. I was convinced I would be fiercely condemned on all sides and perhaps even have to endure another round of ostracism. But I actually got some great comments instead:
- “I am a selfish lazy coward.”
- “It’s earlier than we think.”
- “I think this article is about two decades ahead of its time.”
- “Change doesn’t occur just from people participating in direct action. Society first has to – in general – accept that direct action is legitimate before it will have the desired effect.”
- “Yes, the government does harm me in significant ways, but it seems silly to throw my life away with all I have to offer on something so insignificant [meaning, perhaps, tax resistance].”
- “Once I met my wife, I had to compromise my principles for a comfortable life. That means I value comfort for myself and my wife more than I value liberty in the abstract. Every time I expend effort in a way which doesn’t work against tyranny, I’m expressing that I value other things more. I accept and understand that.”
If we build it, they will come. If we will join together and construct new libertarian societies starting right now, and without any more pathetic excuses, then we will find the fortitude, the time, the customers and collaborators, the courage and the honor that we need to accomplish our goals.
So stop your complaining.
- You’re not a selfish lazy coward because you are here reading, discussing and thinking about these ideas.
- This (r)evolution has no schedule. We’re not early. We’re probably late. Things will happen at the rate you demand they happen. Want to wait 20 years before starting? Then it will take another 20 years. Want it to happen now? Then it can happen now. Time is an excuse.
- We don’t need people to accept direct action. We don’t need more than 10% of the population to be all fired up about liberty. But even if we did need everyone to be with us, how do you expect them to “accept” direct action before they see people doing it in real life? Don’t paint yourself into a chicken-and-egg corner.
- A refusal to comply with the machinery of statism is not “insignificant.” It is a question of personal honor. Are your values something to while away the time with on reddit? Or do they actually mean something to you? Is there congruence between your ideas and your actions? If not, what is the point of holding these ideas in the first place? What are you waiting for?
- The idea of choosing comfort over liberty is disgusting. How many people who aren’t as privileged as you are paying for your decision with their suffering, their life? I don’t understand how someone can so cavalierly give up so their honor just to keep a woman “happy.” I put that in quotes because what a fake happiness it must be. Is this not the ultimate “whipped”? Not to mention that, as Emerson so well put it in the above image, there is no meaning to life without liberty. I mean that literally. If you can’t choose your life’s course, what satisfaction can you take from the direction it flows in?
Not an Indictment but a Learning Experience
I reproduce these quotes here not as an indictment on those who spoke them. No, not in the least. I don’t want to judge you fine folks. In fact, I am grateful that you shared your comments so I have this article to write! I must admit that I have been there, too. I occasionally catch myself daydreaming about how life would be different without this struggle.
Without this struggle, I would have more money. I would take more vacations. I would play more with my son. I would have fewer things to worry about.
And it would all mean absolutely NOTHING. Because I wouldn’t have my liberty. I wouldn’t be on a path towards a free world for my son and his sons. As Emerson says in the above quote, “For what avail the plough or sail, Or land or life, if freedom fail?” Life without liberty is an empty travail of the curses of modern American existence – empty minds and empty spirits who can do nothing more than lead our world to ruin with any wealth that’s produced. If that’s what floats your boat, so be it. As for me, I have something greater in mind.
4 replies on “If We Build a New Libertarian Society, They will Come”
Great article George. You definitely raised some good points. I do have a question for you though. Are you going to write an article with a list of agorist/counter-economic business ideas? And possibe ways to fufill them? And I mean something that is truly grey or black market. So starting a cooperative is good, but not enough unless it deals in a counter economic area. Another example would be providing black-market healthcare Though I have no clue as to how to do THAT beyond not getting the required license
Agorism is just a fancy word for dual power. Cooperatives and the like easily fit under the mantle of dual power. I do actually have an article planned on this topic. Thanks for commenting.
I agree with the urgent need for a real plan of action, but I believe that the first stage of this is for those seeking to establish voluntary paradigms in their environs to agree on a set of principles, and not compromise on them for the sake of ‘big-tent’ mentality.
The second stage is simple: mass proselytisation. Each voluntaryist to set about doing everything they can to form discussion groups and talk to people in their community, showing people the need for – and the means towards – a radical alternative to violence and heteronomy.
I’m not prepared to work with minarchists, or most anarchists, since I’m not going to make the mistake of associating with people I disagree with on fundamental principles. So they either shape up, wake up, and get stuck into voluntaryism, or they can count me out.
So what I recommend is: form a REAL ‘freedom movement’. Make an organisation with outlined principles and invite all those committed to join. Build membership towards a given level while always proselytising every non-member one can ‘get through to’. Work tirelessy to create as much publicity for the movement, not be distracted by other projects outside of the movement (do those projects within the movement if they are really valuable).
And when support is significant (this will take a long time), then action can be coordinated and targeted.
There is no point in disjointed, isolated individuals engaging in tax protest. Building a parallel polis is one thing. Using non-fiat currency and barter is also good. But some things are simply gonna get one landed in the slammer.
Most of the actions you imply in your post are exactly the kind of things that need to be done – but only when it can be done by a large group of people, and coordinated, and ONLY when that body of people are reading from the same songsheet morally and methodologicallly.
Otherwise it ain’t gonna work.
Feel free to check my latest posts on this. http://consentient.wordpress.com
I share your sense of urgency though, and am a bit sick of minarchists and armchair ancaps just enjoying their comfortable lives and upvoting stuff with no end product.
Entito Sovrano is a friend and colleague who also shares my criticisms on this matter. Check out his website too:
I really like this article, but, and this is just the opinion of an inexperienced college student, but I don’t think the world, or the country, is ready for serious change yet. They wouldn’t accept it. And if such a libertarian revolution were to occur, violence would break out.
To me, liberty is something I think about often, but I don’t have a chance to act on it very much. My friends know all about it, I participate in a group on the side, and I even plan on moving to the free state project later, but it’s a small part of my life. I would immensely love for the state to disappear and for the market to replace it, but most people wouldn’t.
For the state to fall, there is a need for people to make sacrifices. You know this well. But there is another need, and that is a more libertarian mindset, in general. When people see activists getting themselves in trouble, when they “waste” their time protesting, campaigning, donating to libertarian institutes, when they see us criticizing, resisting, and at the extreme level, breaking the law, some of them will think “good for them, they’re standing up for what they believe in!” Others will will take offence at our peaceful actions, and advocate violence if we mention tax resistance.
There is a tipping point, and I believe it will come within several decades, when the majority stop advocating violence. When people, as a whole, can support the idea of tax resistance. Because no matter what, for the state to entirely disappear, some temporary period of tax resistance will have to happen. I know what I’ll do. And I know what the police will do. The question is, what will the silent majority do?
Older people, on average, trust the government more. Alternative media on the internet is displacing the mainstream media. And home schooling is on the rise as well. All of these are undermining the state’s control over information, but it will take a long time for the effects to take hold, because political beliefs tend to be formed in the late teens to early 20s. Mine certainly seem fixed now, and I’m only 20. On the other hand, wealth and power is shifting to the higher ages. People are living longer. And the upper classes are more and more defined by age, with older cohorts earning and saving more than ever, while younger people are earning less and less, with more and more debt.
Older citizens have the most money and power, but younger citizens are the only ones who will change their minds.
With this in mind, I think we can expect some serious changes in the 21st century, but it will take time. People who still trust Fox news and/or believe in the left-right paradigm, the greatest source of wealth and power for the state, are a dying breed. I think the intellectual fight is more relevant now than ever. Because if we win it, the real fight can begin. But until then, we can’t destroy it entirely. We might manage to elect a few paleo-conservatives who will repeal a few laws here and there, but the focus, I think, should be on the new generations, because the ultimate problem can only be solved in the long term.